Chapter 23 Every career move has its risks

第二十三章 每次的職涯抉擇都有風險

23. Every career move has its risks

By twelve, I had figured out how I was going to escape the drudgery of industrial work as a career – or work in general, for that matter. I was going to be a rock-and-roll star. My poor qualities of talent and musicality did not seem to be major challenges: maturity, however, affords us a totally different perspective, doesn’t it? Music was the rage.

It dominated the youthful society of the time in a way that social media does today. At the top of this social hierarchy were the musicians. God took lessons from them, obviously. When John Lennon said, “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that; I'm right and I'll be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first -- rock-and-roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me,”1 he may have provoked outrage – but he wasn’t far off for the times.

The music business is very fickle. Though our group practiced and practiced, and had legions of fans – bear in mind that our village totaled 1200 people (or souls to quote Gogol) – we didn’t get the notoriety that we deserved. “The current generation now sees everything clearly, it marvels at the errors, it laughs at the folly of its ancestors, not seeing that this chronicle is all over scored by divine fire, that every letter of it cries out, that from everywhere the piercing finger is pointed at it, at this current generation; but the current generation laughs and presumptuously, proudly begins a series of new errors, at which their descendants will also laugh afterwards.”2 Then we got our big break. We were “invited” to perform in a talent contest. I remember that we were flawless: we sang “Hey Jude”3 by the Beatles. I did the screeching – quite well, if I may add. For our efforts, we received third prize – third prize! Well, it wasn’t second or first prize, but we still basked in the glow of success. Did I mention that there were four acts in the show?

We were “on a roll.” We waited for an agent and a recording contract: none was forthcoming. Now, the lead singer and overall superstar was a man by the name of Hume Bedford. He was blond (of course), good looking and had “a voice like velvet,” as the idiom goes. If anyone had a future in music, it was he: the hand of God was but a grasp away. To further our chances, he decided that our foursome – now twosome – had to move to a larger enclave: a larger town.

I grew up in the environs of Canada’s wilderness. The next town was some three and a half hours away by car, or bus, in our case. This necessitated quitting school and moving: relatively simple and exciting concepts to a sixteen-year-old. I went home and told my mother. I will always retain the conversation: “Mom, I’m quitting school!” “You are what?” “I am quitting school. Hume and I are moving to Port Clements to continue our careers in music.” There was a dark silence that lingered far longer than is natural. Then, rather violently I felt, my mother began to scream – scream! Out of her mouth came unintelligible words in some Slavic language: my mother had Eastern European blood. When she settled back to her normal level of tranquility – my mather was a very lovely, peaceful woman – she simply forbade me to stop my schooling. She wanted me to gain the training necessary to “fight life’s battles.”

There it was when viewed from some forty-five years later, the seminal change in my life’s direction. I was not going to become a professional musician. At the time, I was totally crestfallen. My life was over – finished! This was not to be the first nor the last time that destiny’s door seemed to be firmly shut, only to later crack and emit a flicker of light.

For Hume, unfortunately, life was not so fair. He did move to the big city, but life did not deal kindly with him. He fell in with the wrong people and experienced the seamier side of the music business. Out of that milieu, he met a woman and got married. “You can do the math,” as the pundits say. When I briefly encountered him some ten years later, our paths were on such different trajectories that we had nothing in common. I was heartbroken but thankful for my mother’s obstinacy. He died at forty of alcohol and drug addiction: just sad.

Every choice that we make in life has its consequences. There is a large body of thought that suggests: “Play it safe.”4 No, we can’t play it safe. But, we must be prepared for many, many setbacks: not just one. That career that we talk so much about is elusive. It does not just fall “into your lap.” The major secret, I believe is the question, “Who is the most beautiful person that you know?” the answer, of course, is, “Yourself!”

This is not the vanity of the body, but the celebration of the spirit of self-respect. If you try and try, and try again, the universe will provide. I firmly believe this. It has provided for me. Why can’t it provide for everyone? The great Persian poet and philosopher Rumi (1207-1273) has a thought: “Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart. … Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. I have tried prudent planning long enough. From now on I’ll be mad.”

Todd Henry in his book Die Empty5 has a more contemporary thought: “Embrace the importance of now, and refuse to allow the lull of comfort, fear, familiarity, and ego to prevent you from taking action on your ambitions. The cost of inaction is vast. Don’t go to your grave with your best work inside of you. Choose to die empty.”

23. 每次的職涯抉擇都有風險

當我12歲時,我已經了解未來該如何擺脫做勞工的苦差事,或者逃離一般性的工作,我想成為搖滾巨星。我的才華和音樂素質雖然不怎麼樣,卻似乎沒有成為阻擋我的障礙。然而,隨著心智成熟,我們回頭看當時的事情有完全不同的觀點,不是嗎?音樂在那時蔚為風尚。

當時音樂對年輕人的重要性就如同現今社群媒體一樣。社會階級的最頂層是音樂家。上帝顯然從他們那裡學到這件事。當約翰・藍儂說:「基督教會滅亡,它會消逝和萎縮。對此我不需要爭論;我是對的,且將會被證明是對的。我們現在比耶穌更受歡迎;我不知道哪個會先消失,搖滾樂或基督教?耶穌沒什麼問題,但祂的信徒又笨又平凡。對我而言,就是他們扭曲了信仰才毀了基督教。」1他也許曾引起眾怒,但當時的他反映了時代的潮流。

音樂圈的變動是非常快的。即便我們的團隊一再練習,並吸引了大批粉絲,但我們沒有得到我們應得的名聲。你要知道,我們的村落總共有1200人(或引用果戈的話,有1200個靈魂)。「現在這個世代看事情看得很清晰,他們對別人的錯誤感到驚訝,他們嘲笑祖先的愚蠢,但他們不知全知的上帝見證著歷史的發展,歷史記載上的逐字逐句彷彿高聲吶喊著,從四面八方指向這個世代的人。但人們仍放肆地大笑,在驕傲與自豪中開始犯下各種新的錯誤,而他們的後代也會一樣取笑他們的。」2接著我們獲得了很好的機會,我們「被邀請」參加歌唱比賽。我記得我們演出是完美無瑕的,我們唱了披頭四的「嗨,朱迪」3。容我做點補充,當時我負責尖叫的那一段,而且做得相當好。我們的努力為我們贏得了第三名,是第三名!是的,這不是第二或第一名,但我們仍然沉浸在成功的光輝中。我剛剛是否曾提到過只有四組參賽?

我們「好運連連」,等著經紀人和錄音的合約上門,結果沒有任何人前來拜訪。主唱兼超級明星是休姆・貝德福特。他的頭髮是金色的(這是理所當然的),非常好看並且有著如同諺語形容的「天鵝絨般的嗓音」,也就是超級好聽的金嗓音。如果有人在音樂方面會有前途,那肯定是他,上帝的幸運之手就在眼前,他很容易就能抓到了。為了進一步增加我們的機會,他決定我們的四人組(現在是兩人)必須搬到更大的地方,一個更大的城鎮。

我在加拿大非常偏遠的地區長大。離我們最近的城鎮,開車或搭公車需要三個半小時左右。這表示退學跟搬家是不可避免的,這對一個16歲的男孩來說,是個簡單且令人興奮的概念。我回家告訴媽媽。我將永遠記得這段對話:「媽媽,我要退學了!」「你什麼?」「我要離開學校了。休姆和我要搬到克萊門斯港繼續我們的音樂生涯。」當時有種陰鬱的沉默,持續的時間比一般的狀況多出很多。接著,我聽到我母親非常激動的尖叫,是的,尖叫!從她的口中說出一些難以理解的斯拉夫語詞彙(我的母親有東歐血統)。恢復到正常平靜時,我的母親是一個非常可愛、平和的女性,她就是不准我輟學,她希望我具備能讓我「打贏人生戰爭」的應有訓練。

四十五年後再回首,母親當時的決定徹底地改變了我人生發展的方向。我不會成為一名專業音樂人了。當時我感到十分氣餒。我的人生已經完了,結束了!這不是第一次也不是最後一次命運的門似乎牢牢地關上,之後這扇門出現縫隙,並從中發出一道光芒。

不幸的是,休姆的人生並不是那麼順遂。他確實搬到了大城市,但是他的命運不太好。他交了壞朋友,過著音樂圈當中比較陰暗面的生活。在那個環境下,他遇到了一個女人並結婚了。專家說,「你可以理解的。」大約十幾年後,我與他有次短暫的會面,我們的人生已經走上不同的軌道上,甚至於我們沒有任何共同之處,這使人心碎,但感謝母親當時的固執。他四十歲的時死於酒精和毒癮,多麽令人悲傷。

我們在生活中做出的每一個選擇都有伴隨而來的後果。有一大堆想法都建議我們:「打安全牌。」4 不,我們不能打安全牌。我們必須為許多挫折做好準備,不僅僅是一個失敗而已。我們談論這麼多的生涯規劃,其實是難以捉摸的,它不會就出現在你的面前,而是要自己去探索。我相信主要的秘訣就在於這個問題之中:「誰是你認識的人當中最美麗的人?」而答案當然就是:「你自己!」

這不是身體外表的虛榮,而是對自尊心的頌揚。如果你一再嘗試,堅持不懈,那麼整個世界都會幫助你。我深信這一點。因為我曾經因為堅持而得到協助,如果我可以,為何他人不行?偉大的波斯詩人和哲學家魯米(1207-1273)曾說:「每個人都是為某些特定的工作而來的,對這項工作的渴望已經存在每個人的心中。……離開讓你覺得舒服的地方、把安全牌忘了、生活在你害怕的地方、拋開你名聲的包袱並試著變得惡名昭彰。我過去長時間都謹慎地規劃事情,但從現在開始,我將瘋狂地解放自己。」

塔德・亨利在他的書⟪工作潛能大釋放⟫5中提到一個更現代的說法:「接受當下的重要性,拒絕讓舒適、恐懼、熟悉和自尊阻止你的夢想採取行動。不行動的代價是巨大的。不要把最好的你帶進墳墓裡,選擇兩手空空地離開這世界。」